Walmart slows push to add third-party sellers to its online marketplace
As Walmart was posting quarterly online sales gains of 50 percent or more last year, the company often mentioned added SKUs as a factor in its success. Many of those SKUs came from third-party sellers on the walmart.com marketplace. While the retailer continues to add to its roster of third parties, the pace of new additions has slowed, according to research from Marketplace Pulse.
According to a Bloomberg report, the slowdown in new marketplace sellers coincides with a drop in Walmart’s U.S. e-commerce sales from 50 percent growth in the third quarter to 23 percent in the fourth. Walmart is tapping the brakes on marketplace sellers at the same time that most others are putting the pedal to the metal, according to Marketplace Pulse.
On the chain’s fourth quarter earnings call, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said the number of SKUs on its marketplace had grown to 75 million. Marketplace Pulse puts the number of third parties selling on walmart.com at 18,000.
“We’re focused on adding the best items our customers want from the best sellers,” Ravi Jariwala, a spokesperson for Walmart, told Bloomberg. “In any given month, the number of new marketplace sellers added to our platform may fluctuate as we continuously add new items and offer customers an expanding range of choices.”
One possible explanation for Walmart’s apparent third-party seller slowdown is the company’s focus on its own digital brands. Walmart under the direction of U.S. e-commerce chief Marc Lore has been on a buying spree since acquiring Jet.com in 2016.
In addition to Jet, Walmart has acquired Shoebuy, MooseJaw, Modclothn and Bonobos. It launched Allswell, an upscale mattress and bedding site, in February.
“We buy companies we can help accelerate,” Mr. Lore said at Shoptalk last month. “Our M&A strategy has been to buy companies with great content, great relationships and innovation.”
- Walmart Is Getting Picky About Online Marketplace Sellers – Bloomberg
- Walmart’s (CEO Doug McMillon on Q4 2018 Results (Earnings Call Transcript) – Seeking Alpha
- Walmart is focused on expanding its digital brand portfolio – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Why do you think Walmart, if true, is slowing the pace at which it is adding new sellers to its marketplace? Do you think Walmart is following a sound strategy for the addition of third-party SKUs to its online site?